Mets have an offer out to a free agent outfielder, and what is their plan for the DH spot?
Billy Eppler says the club is still active in the outfield and bullpen markets. Plus, what can the club do to improve the designated hitter spot?
What’s Up with the Mets? 🍎
The Mets have six players ranked in Baseball America’s Top 100 prospects list (Baseball America)
New York is still active in both the outfield and bullpen markets in free agency, according to GM Billy Eppler (MLB.com)
Eppler is also “confident” in the Mets starting lineup despite Carlos Correa signing with Minnesota (NY Post)
The Mets have an offer out to free agent OF Tommy Pham, and are optimistic a deal can be made (SNY)
26 days until pitchers and catchers report to Port St. Lucie! ⚾️ 🌴
What are the Mets going to do with the DH spot? ✍🏻
Much like an animated character from ‘Encanto,’ we don’t talk about Correa anymore. And with that signing that was not to be, the Mets are left with a very similar lineup to the one they trotted out there the year prior.
Yes, there are some potential improvements – with rookies Francisco Álvarez and Brett Baty expected to get roles entering the season and the departure of James McCann – and overall they did finish 5th in runs scored last season, but this is also a lineup that was severely lacking power throughout last year, sputtered at times down the stretch and got one-hit in winner-take-all postseason game to unceremoniously end their season.
There aren’t a ton of obvious holes to fix on the offensive side at this stage of free agency, with the infield being pretty solidified and two All-Star caliber players in the outfield. One area that remains a glaring need, though, is the designated hitter spot.
For whatever reason, this is a place in the lineup that the Mets could never seem to get right last year.
Last season, despite mixing and matching with several different DH combinations throughout the year, New York never got anything going in that spot. When the duo of Dominic Smith and JD Davis didn’t work out, the club pivoted and tried to emulate that platoon approach — which made the Giants so successful in 2021 — by bringing in Daniel Vogelbach and Darin Ruf.
Vogelbach certainly provided them with a spark for a few weeks, but was never quite the same after a hamstring injury severely limited him. Ruf, on the other hand, was essentially a disaster from the get-go, and could never seem to get anything together as his playing time waned over the season’s final weeks. Overall, Mets designated hitters batted .218/.314/.371 with a .685 OPS – second worst for any position on the team, only trailing the catcher’s spot.
With options limited this deep into the offseason, one begins to wonder if the team plans on just running it back at this point with last year’s deadline acquisitions.
I certainly wouldn’t recommend it, and the hope is that general manager Billy Eppler can be taken for his word that the club remains active in the free agent market, but there definitely less and less obvious choices available as the days go on. Adam Duvall, who would have made a lot of sense, signed a one-year deal with the Red Sox this morning because it gives him a better opportunity to play every day. Andrew McCutchen returned to the Pirates for one last dance at the end of his career. Even in the trade market, while I’ve mentioned Christian Walker as an option before, the Dbacks appear to be intending to at least be somewhat competitive this season, which makes the likelihood of him being made available lower than once believed.
The only free agents remaining that could potentially slot into this area appear to be people like Mike Moustakas (coming off the worst season of his career), Miguel Sanó (who played in just 60 games last season and should not be a consideration with his past sexual assault accusation), Gary Sanchez (coming off one of his worst offensive seasons) and Luke Voit (a lot of power, but getting progressively less productive over the last three seasons).
Honestly, for the Mets to improve the DH spot in a meaningful way at this stage of the offseason, that is likely going to have to come in the form of a trade that we don’t currently see coming. The options remaining in free agency, as we now see, are pretty limited and other than maybe Voit, don’t really seem worth trying just for the sake of doing something different.
That being said, while he’s still going to be on this team, I don’t see any way how the Mets can justifiably give Ruf the nod without at least some competition in spring training. If this team is going to go with what they have at the position, I’d like to see a lot more of Eduardo Escobar at the spot when Baty is in the lineup at third base. I also think there is a lot of opportunity to give Álvarez a majority of those at-bats at DH against lefties so the team can continue to ease him in defensively at catcher.
And if that doesn’t seem to be working they’ll be in this position once again in July, just trying to find someone who can give them four quality at-bats a game.
Hot Stove 🔥
The Brewers signed 3B Brian Anderson to a one-year, $3.5 million contract (Miami Herald)
The Red Sox signed OF Adam Duvall to a one-year, $7 million contract (Miami Herald)
The Marlins are showing interest in LHP Aroldis Chapman (Heyman)
The Cardinals have had talks with the Marlins about potentially trading for one of Miami’s starting pitchers (Rosenthal)